Let’s not get it twisted, for years Maniac was head and shoulders above most producers in the scene. His name was synonymous with the hardest Grime instrumentals, and the list of classic beats he dropped is almost endless. Maniac’s absence from the scene left many people wondering what would happen to his old productions, and whether he’d ever jump back on making music, but the good news is that he’s back, and he agreed to answer my questions about his older stuff, whether we can expect to hear anything from him soon, who he rates in Grime at the moment, and more.
GrimeDisciple (GD): First of all, I doubt there are any grime fans that don’t know who you are, but can you tell me a little bit about yourself and some of the classics you’ve made, just for anyone that might be new to the music?
Maniac: I’m Maniac, erm, the most popular beats I’ve made, I’d say, were: Kidulthood to Adulthood, Bow E3, Mainstream Money, and Inna Di Ghetto. I started producing at about 14, and took it more seriously as time went on.
GD: Getting straight to it then, are you working on any new music at the moment? If you are, do you feel that your style has changed at all, for instance, can we expect to hear 808 drums?
Maniac: I’m working on a lot of new music at the moment, both instrumental based and with artists. I’d say my style is similar, but where I’m older now, it’s a bit more mature, and my mixes have improved. Mixing was never my strength. I doubt you’ll hear any 808 drums in any Grime beat I make, and if I did, it wouldn’t be in the US style that it’s used these days.
GD: Liquid Organ, Lengman Tune, Masks, Galactic… I could list off some of your old beats for days, but are they ever likely to get a release at any point? Is there any chance of a New Age Grime 2?
Maniac: Liquid Organ was recently used by Wiley on “Snakes and Ladders“. Lengman tune I didn’t realise anyone had heard [he laughs]! Masks was just for a vocal, I didn’t consider releasing it as an instrumental, and Galactic is one of my personal faves. There’s definitely a chance of a new instrumental CD – I don’t reckon I’ll call it New Age Grime 2, but we’ll see what the future holds.
GD: What do you think of the standard of the scene at the moment? Do you rate any MCs or producers that have come along in the last few years?
Maniac: I think the scene is quite healthy at the moment, and I just hope it’ll continue to rise and improve. I’m feeling a few artists at the moment, I think Villain is really putting a lot of work in, as is Maxsta and, as always, Wiley. The scene has broadened in the past few years, which can only be a good thing.
GD: For a while it seemed like a tonne of guys were trying to make rebore Maniac beats. How did you feel about that?
Maniac: I’m happy when I hear beats that contain my influences cos it’s a compliment really. Even if someone tried to take my whole sound and style, I’d still take it as a compliment. It’s all good. But I would encourage people to be themselves if they are deliberately trying to make a beat like me.
GD: You’ve worked with pretty much every top MC, still. Is there anyone else you’d like to work with?
Maniac: There’s no artist I’m particularly trying to work with at the moment. I’m just working on my own levels at the moment, so I can be strong for 2015.
GD: Name a beat you wish you’d made.
Maniac: Off the top of my head… I wish I made “Spanish Fly” by Jon E Cash. Ridiculous tune.
Apparently you played for West Ham’s youth team back in the day. What position did you play, and if you had to compare yourself to a player in the Premier League, who would it be and why?
Maniac: I was at West Ham’s youth academy when I was 12 but only as a trialist. They played me left back,which wasn’t my position. Needless to say I didn’t last long.
If I had to compare myself to a footballer, musically, I’d say I was Daniel Sturridge. I said this on Twitter the other day as well. I was out “injured” for a while, and I consider myself to make aggressive sounding music, and Sturridge is an attacking player, so that’s what the comparison’s based on.